Anime-influenced animation

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005–2008) characters

Anime-influenced animation[1][2] refers to non-Japanese works of animation that are similar to or inspired by anime. Generally, the term anime refers to a style of animation originating from Japan. As Japanese anime became increasingly popular, Western animation studios began implementing some visual stylizations typical in anime—such as exaggerated facial expressions and "super deformed" versions of characters.

Although outside Japan, anime is specifically used to mean animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style often characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes,[3][4] there is a debate over whether the culturally abstract approach to the word's meaning may open up the possibility of anime produced in countries other than Japan.[5][6][7] While some Westerners strictly view anime as a Japanese animation product,[4] some scholars suggest defining anime as specifically or quintessentially Japanese may be related to a new form of orientalism.[8]

United StatesEdit


The main characters of Teen Titans (2003–2006)

One of the first noted attempts from American companies on making anime is in The King Kong Show in late 60s and early 70s. This animation was the result of a collaboration between Toei Animation from Japan and Videocraft from America. The result was an animation with an Anime-like visual style and a Japanese Kaiju theme, that incorporated the cartoonish style of the Hanna-Barbera era in American TV animation. Another early example of this might be Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero.[9]

Toei Animation continued this kind of collaboration in the Transformers TV series, which aired in the 80s. While this animation was actually animated by Toei Animation, the series was produced by and for Americans. Transformers truly showed many influences and elements of anime including story, themes and its style that completely resembled Mecha anime. Another example of this is Voltron; an American mecha series that reuses the animation from previously released Toei Japanese anime, creating a new story written by American writers.

This trend continued throughout the 80s with animations like Dungeons and Dragons, again co-produced by Toei Animation. Furthermore, through the 90s, many American shows started to be outsourced to Japanese animators, most notably TMS Entertainment, which animated popular television productions such as X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ThunderCats, Inspector Gadget, The Real Ghostbusters, Rainbow Brite, Tiny Toon Adventures, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Animaniacs and Spider-Man, most of which visually or thematically were not resembling Japanese anime.[10] TaleSpin did, however, take inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki's 1989 manga Hikōtei Jidai.[11]

During the 90s, some American animations started showing strong influence from anime without having any Japanese artists directly involved in the project. An example of this can be seen in Cartoon Network shows like The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory or the Disney Channel show, Kim Possible.

Some other notable example of this anime-influenced shows are Batman the Animated Series which was actually partially outsourced to Japanese artists, Gargoyles, and more recently Teen Titans,[12] The Boondocks,[13] Megas XLR,[14] and The Batman. Batman Beyond displayed some characteristics of anime; in particular, some of its production processes were outsourced to Japan.[15] The advent of Japanese anime stylizations appearing in Western animation questioned the established meaning of "anime".[16]

Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! is the first Jetix original show to be produced by the Japanese artists and use an anime concept for the characters, including a transformation sequence for the series' main protagonist, Chiro Takashi.

Avatar: The Last Airbender, and its sequel series The Legend of Korra are other examples of Western anime so heavily influenced by Japanese anime that they started discussions among fans and viewers about what an anime is and whether a non-Japanese animation should be called an anime.[17] Avatar creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino confirmed a particular Japanese anime influence in a magazine interview; that of "Hayao Miyazaki, especially Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke"[18] as well as My Neighbor Totoro.[19] Other studios from which inspiration was drawn include Studio 4°C, Production I.G, Polygon Pictures and Studio Ghibli.[20]

The same strong resemblance can be seen in Voltron: Legendary Defender, a reboot of Voltron franchise, this time completely produced by American artists. Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos, both known for their work on the Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra, served as showrunners while fellow crew member Tim Hedrick served as head writer. These anime-influenced animations have become defined as "anime" by some sources, in an attempt to classify all Japanese-anime styled works of non-Japanese origin.[16]

The main characters of RWBY.

The web-based series RWBY, produced by Texas-based company Rooster Teeth, is produced using an anime-influenced art style, and has been referred to as an American anime by multiple sources.[5][21] For example, when the series was licensed for release in Japan, AdWeek reported on the situation using the headline "American-made anime from Rooster Teeth gets licensed in Japan".[22] The CEO of Rooster Teeth, Matt Hullum, commented on the licensing agreement, saying "This is the first time any American-made anime has been marketed to Japan. It definitely usually works the other way around, and we're really pleased about that."[22] In 2013, Monty Oum, the creator of RWBY, said “Some believe just like Scotch needs to be made in Scotland, an American company can’t make anime. I think that’s a narrow way of seeing it. Anime is an art form, and to say only one country can make this art is wrong."[5]

In 2015, Netflix announced that it intended to produce anime.[23] In doing so, the company is offering a more accessible channel for distribution to Western markets.[24]

Defining anime as style has been contentious amongst fans, with John Oppliger stating, "The insistence on referring to original American art as "anime" or "manga" robs the work of its cultural identity."[4][25] On the other hand, animations like Avatar: The Last Airbender, its sequel and Voltron: Legendary Defender have opened up more debates on whether these works should be called "anime" and whether the culturally abstract approach to the word's meaning may open up the possibility of anime produced in countries other than Japan.[5][6][7] While some Westerners strictly view anime as a Japanese animation product,[4] some scholars suggest defining anime as specifically or quintessentially Japanese may be related to a new form of orientalism[8] with some fans and critics arguing that the term should be defined as a "style" rather than as a national product, which leaves open the possibility of anime being produced in other countries.[3][6]

Stitch! is the anime spin-off of Disney's Lilo & Stitch franchise and the successor to Lilo & Stitch: The Series. It debuted in Japan in October 2008. The show features a Japanese girl named Yuna in place of Lilo, and is set on a fictional island in the Ryukyus off the shore of Okinawa instead of Hawaii.


The production on The Animatrix began when the Wachowskis visited some of the creators of the anime films that had been strong influences on their work, and decided to collaborate with them.[26]

Japanese anime has influenced Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks productions. Glen Keane, the animator for successful Disney films such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Tangled (2010), has credited Hayao Miyazaki as a "huge influence" on Disney's animated films ever since The Rescuers Down Under (1990).[27] Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, the directors of Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), are fans of anime and have cited Miyazaki's works as a major influence on their own work.[28] Miyazaki's influence on Disney dates back to The Great Mouse Detective (1986), which was influenced by Miyazaki's Lupin III film Castle of Cagliostro (1979) and which in turn paved the way for the Disney Renaissance.[29][30]

Controversially, Disney's The Lion King (1994) was accused of plagiarizing Osamu Tezuka's 1960s anime series Kimba the White Lion, due to both works sharing numerous similarities, leading to a protest upon release in Japan. However, Disney denied the accusation of plagiarism.[31][32] The controversy surrounding Kimba and The Lion King was parodied in a 1995 episode of The Simpsons.[33] A similar controversy surrounded another Disney film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which was alleged to have plagiarized the Studio Gainax anime series Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990).[28][34] Atlantis directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise denied the allegation, but nevertheless acknowledged Miyazaki's films as a major influence on their work.[28]

Miyazaki's work deeply influenced Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, who described how Miyazaki's influence upon his life and work began when he first saw Castle of Cagliostro.[35] Pete Docter, director of the popular Pixar films Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Up (2009) as well as a co-creator of other Pixar works, has also described anime, specifically Miyazaki, as an influence on his work.[36] Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck cited the influence of Miyazaki's anime productions on Frozen (2013), stating that they were inspired by their sense of "epic adventure and that big scope and scale and then the intimacy of funny quirky characters."[37] Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois described Miyazaki's flight and pacifist themes as an influence for creating How to Train Your Dragon (2010).


In the 1980s, there were Japanese-European productions such as Ulysses 31, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, Sherlock Hound and The Jungle Book. Some European-Canadian series have also been influenced by anime, such as Totally Spies!,[38] Martin Mystery, and Team Galaxy.


The main characters of the W.I.T.C.H. animated series (2004–2006), based on the Italian comics of the same title.

The French-American international co-production W.I.T.C.H., a magical girl series,[39] has been noted as having an anime-influenced visual style.[40][41] First season director Marc Gordon-Bates cited anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion as design inspiration.[42] The animated series is based on Italian comics of the same name themselves drawn in line with manga conventions, as opposed to the more rounded style traditionally used by publisher and co-producer Disney.[43] Co-executive producer Olivier Dumont noted that the high-quality animation was intended to be true to the detailed artwork of the comics series.[44]

The producers of the French anime Code Lyoko, one of the most successful works of European anime, explicitly stated in their introductory document that they were: "Influenced by the poetry and the visual impact of Japanese animation, the series proposes a graphic universe that's particularly original and strong."[45]

Another example of anime-influenced animation can be seen in Wakfu: The Animated Series, a flash animation series based on a video game of the same title.

Ōban Star-Racers is known as one of the European animations that strongly resemble anime. While the majority of the creative directors and writers were French, the production team moved to Tokyo to collaborate with a Japanese production team.[46]

Animation such as Oban Star-Racers and Code Lyoko, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, are examples over which some critics and fans debate about the term anime and whether it is defined as a "style" rather than as a national product, which leaves open the possibility of anime being produced in other countries.[3][6]


The main characters of the animated series Winx Club (2004–present).

The Italian-American animated series Winx Club, created by cartoonist Iginio Straffi, uses a magical girl concept for the main characters, including transformations for each character.[47]

Another series created by Straffi, Huntik: Secrets & Seekers, is presented in a style that combines anime with Western animation.[48]


Arabia and PhilippinesEdit

The UAE-Filipino produced TV series called Torkaizer is dubbed as the "Middle East's First Anime Show", and is currently in production,[7] which is currently looking for funding.[49]

A Japanese-Filipino produced anime television series Barangay 143 is currently airing on GMA Network.

In April 2020, a studio named Manga Production from Saudi Arabia announced the release of Future's Folktales (Mirai no Mukashibanashi), co-produced with Toei.[50]

South AsiaEdit

A Pakistani hand drawn romantic anime film called The Glassworker is currently in production. It is directed by Usman Riaz. The trailer of the film was released on October 2016. The Film is expected to release on 2021.

In India, a studio named Studio Durga is producing a movie Karmachakra with anime influenced animations.

Other regionsEdit

In 2007, the Canadian anime-style animated short Flutter became the first work from a non-Asian nation to win the Open Entries Grand Prize at the Tokyo Anime Awards.[51]

In Brazil, since the 2000s there have already been countless independent projects for animated series inspired by anime. Projects to adapt popular manga-styled comics like Holy Avenger and Monica Teen have already occurred, but were canceled in the course of time. In May 2016, Nickelodeon opened the series Os Under-Undergrounds.[52]

See alsoEdit


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